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SALT LAKE CITY — Although this winter has been unusually warm, cold weather is on its way, which means many Utahns will be cranking up the heat in their houses, increasing the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Furnaces and other heating elements that burn coal, wood, charcoal, propane and natural gas all produce carbon monoxide, according to the Intermountain Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. The gas is odorless and prolonged exposure can cause serious health problems and even death.
Marc Robins, Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Hyberbaric Medicine director, gave several tips in a news release to help alert people to the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and how to reduce the risks of exposure.
Schedule a check-up for furnaces, hot water heaters
Robins suggests that people have a check-up for their furnace and hot water heater. All gas-fired heating appliances should be checked by a heating and air conditioning professional each year to ensure there aren’t leaks.
Have a carbon monoxide alarm
A carbon monoxide alarm should be placed in each home or business. Robins recommends alarms that have a digital display and meet the UL2034 standard. Alarms with digital displays add an additional level of protection against high carbon monoxide levels.
Replace carbon monoxide alarms
Carbon monoxide alarms should be replaced every five years, Robins said in the news release. People should also make sure to check the batteries in the alarms twice a year and should consider taking one when they travel.
Learn the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning
Exposure to carbon monoxide can be lethal and sometimes there are no warning signs. However, common symptoms of low carbon monoxide exposure include headaches, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, achiness, the feeling that something’s not right and even loss of consciousness, the news release said.
“Be suspicious of carbon monoxide if several people have flu-like symptoms all at once, especially if fever is absent,” Robins said in the news release.
People should also pay attention to see if the symptoms decrease or stop when they leave an area. If anyone suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should immediately leave the area and call 911.